As investors bet on further interest rate cuts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, Britain was first to bear national debt on Monday and joined an international club.
Due to oil prices Down by a fifth Coupled with the plunge in Asian and European stock markets, buyers are prepared to pay for the highest government debt ever, which has traditionally been seen as a safe place to withstand turbulence.
The resulting decline in yields meant that in early London trading, seven-year bonds fell below zero. The yield on two-year Treasury bonds was as low as negative 0.04%, while the yield on benchmark ten-year Treasury bonds reached an all-time low of 0.08%.
The move meant that some investors were actually ready to pay the British government ahead of Wednesday's budget.
Negative yield means that investors who buy bonds and hold to maturity can guarantee nominal losses. Prior to Monday's action, there was no negative trading in UK government bond yields.
Unlike the central banks of the euro area and Japan, the Bank of England has never set interest rates below zero. Outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said last summer that negative interest rates are not an "option" in the UK.
After the Federal Reserve announced last week an emergency cut in interest rates by half a percentage point, the Bank of England is now facing increasing pressure to reduce interest rates in response to the threat of a coronavirus.
Traders bet that, according to CME Group data, the probability of a rate cut from 0.75% to 0.25% is more than 50% at the next Bank of England meeting later this month.
This will bring interest rates back to the record lows of 2016 following the Brexit referendum. The negative yields on the bond market suggest that some investors believe that the Bank of England may have to go further and perhaps abandon its aversion to sub-zero interest rates.